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Dear Mother - a love letter about your journey

Dear Mother – A Love Letter from Me to You

Dear Mother - a love letter about your journey

I’m currently sitting in bed, on day 4 of a hideous virus that has totally knocked me for six and left me unable to do much more than lay still and think. And think I have…

You see, any time I get so sick that the only thing I can do is lay in bed and wait it out, I am reminded of the torturous days of my pregnancy, when Hyperemesis ruled my life. Any HG survivor will attest to how the smallest sniff of nausea can bring on a memory of those days, but when you find yourself so completely wiped out that you can barely move, and your brain is so confused you cannot focus on anything, those memories can be huge.

For me, there is this added feeling of guilt and grief that comes with it. As much as I am terrified of ever having another pregnancy (enough so that we are not having any more children) there is always that feeling of sadness that actually, I wish we were expecting again, I wish I could have been stronger last time, I wish I could face it all again. And that makes me feel like I failed, all over again.

These past 4 days, I have gone through a lot of emotions. And the one thing that has cropped up time and time again is that I haven’t allowed myself to grieve properly for what was lost. I’ve been too focused on “seeing the positives” and “moving on”. But equally, I haven’t allowed myself to really see how my journey towards motherhood was just as valid and beautiful as anyone else’s, even if it didn’t look like the natural, glowing, mother-earth type pregnancy we’re shown in the media.

So I did what I always do when I need to work through emotions as big as these. I began to write. First I wrote page after page of how I truly felt about it all, no holds barred, no worries about what people will think. And then the next day I wrote a love letter to myself.

The shift in how I felt made me realise that I needed to hear this. And maybe you do too. Whatever your journey, whatever hurdles you’ve faced, whatever heartbreak has hit you, please know that this is written in love for each and every one of you, just as it was written in love for me.

Dear Mother - a Love Letter from Me to You

I’ve created a Printable Version of this love letter that you can print out if you feel like it. And please, do share this far and wide with as many mothers as you feel need to hear this.

I love you all.

This post has been added to the #MaternityMatters linky hosted by Ghostwriter Mummy.

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

Being Interviewed live on Good Morning Britain

Talking About Hyperemesis Gravidarum In The Media

I’m currently sitting on a train, heading back home to my one and only beautiful HG Survivor and reflecting on how my experience during pregnancy has completely changed the direction my life has taken.

Had you told me a few years ago that I would be appearing on national breakfast tv to talk about a medical condition I would have thought you were crazy. But that’s what I did today…

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Photo courtesy of Emma Harris

As you may know, I have devoted the past 3 years of my life to raising awareness of the truly awful pregnancy complication Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). This has involved working on a book about HG (which I started way back in 2012, finding a co-author in Spewing Mummy in 2013) and working for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support. I have worked tirelessly to promote the charity’s work, support other sufferers and survivors, and get word out that that this is not morning sickness!

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Photo courtesy of Emma Harris

Which leads me to this morning, when I found myself sitting on the sofa of Good Morning Britain, talking with Dr. Hilary Jones and the presenters Charlotte and Ben about my own experience of HG. Why? Because with news of the Duchess of Cambridge suffering from HG for a second time, there has been a fair amount of media interest in the subject.

Understandably, the response to this has been varied. Some sufferers are over the moon that HG is being presented to the public in this way, having faced lots of criticism over their own pregnancy sickness in the past. Others are disappointed that it is still being described as “acute morning sickness” and that comments about trying to avoid medications in the first trimester or trying ginger are still being offered up as advice.

But here’s the thing for me… HG is making the news! And whilst we still have a long way to go, we are getting there. 

Whilst there were comments about ginger, it was made clear that this may not apply to HG (it doesn’t) and whilst there is hesitancy over prescribing medications in the first trimester, they are not being disregarded completely. We are not hearing that there is “nothing they can do” or that treatments are harmful, both of which are common messages sufferers often come across.

And whilst my short interview may not have provided the opportunity to discuss these issues in more detail (my co-author and colleague had this opportunity later on with Phil and Holly on This Morning!) it did provide media attention that is so very needed.

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Caitlin on the This Morning sofa, photo courtesy of Emma Harris

Let me tell you something… whilst I talk about HG on a daily basis, whilst I have written a book on the subject and talk to sufferers every single day, going on live tv is on a whole different level.

And talking about my own experience, well that was pretty crazy too! I tend to try and keep the focus on general experiences of HG sufferers rather than my own personal experience. This is partly because this more detached focus is needed in my work both for the charity and on the book. But it is also, in a larger part, because I have been burned too many times by people labelling me as “milking it” or a “drama queen” and I struggle with that. A lot.

I do what I do to try and help others – after all, I shall never be having another pregnancy myself, so all this work has no personal benefit to me! I do it because I do not want others to suffer the way I did, because I am the perfect example of someone whose HG went undiagnosed and untreated for far too long. Here are a few personal facts for you:

  • I was never officially diagnosed with HG
  • I was given treatment early on which made no difference and then told there was nothing else they could do, despite multiple trips to the GP, until my 5th month
  • I lost over 10% of my pre-pregnancy weight
  • I was surviving on approx. 300ml of liquid per day at my worst point
  • I was refused IV hydration or admission to hospital, despite being told I was “clearly dehydrated” by the nurse assessing me
  • I was told various things from healthcare professionals including “it’s just because you are worried about the pregnancy” and “sometimes you just have to ‘put up and shut up'”

As such, I have doubted my experience for a long, long time. I haven’t felt a true part of the HG Community of women who had multiple admissions, knew all about ketones, or were prescribed a variety of antiemetics. I felt like a fraud for a very long time… yet I clearly had HG and I clearly needed treatment. Based on the facts you cannot dispute that, and yet I still question myself. And that is the legacy that HG leaves, especially undiagnosed and poorly treated HG.

HG stole the joy of pregnancy from me. It stole my dream of having a larger family (we’re sticking at one child). And it stole an awful lot of confidence from me, confidence which I worked extremely hard to develop over many years.

Going on live tv was utterly terrifying in many ways, especially knowing just how many other women were relying on me to give an accurate portrayal of the sheer hell that is HG. I have no previous media experience of this kind (freelance writing or social media, yes, but tv and radio, not at all). And I am certainly not used to talking about it from a personal perspective. But my experience has been so profound that I know I would do anything and everything I can to create change for all those other women out there who are suffering now or have suffered in the past. And if that includes going on live tv, then so be it!

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If you are a journalist and would like to talk to me further regarding my own experience, my work for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support or my book “Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide” then please do get in touch using my contact form or call me on 07428 119956

For more information regarding the above topics, please see the following:

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide
One Child Family
My Pregnancy Journey

You may also be interested in the following posts I wrote during the Duchess of Cambridge’s first pregnancy, regarding the importance of accurate reporting.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Importance of Awareness and Accurate Reporting

 

Realisations and the Beginnings of Acceptance

I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks now because I have been doing a lot of thinking and a lot of reading and then a lot more thinking, and a little bit of praying in the midst of all that thinking!

And I have come to realise a few things that have made accepting a decision we've had to make that little bit easier. It's like I've come through the bleakness of winter and the hope and promise of Spring is starting to blossom in my heart, just like the flowers and trees are starting the bloom right now…

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Do you remember when I wrote about our decision to never have any more children of our own and how heartbreaking that was for me? It was entitled "The Hardest Decision" and it really and truly was. And when we made that decision I don't think either of us was really ready for it. Little Man was still only a baby and as I spent most of his first year going through a grieving process I wasn't really in a place to accept it.

I had moments when it was clearer in my mind, moments like those I wrote about here. But mostly I was clinging on to some tiny hope that one day we'd be able to do it all again, if we planned everything meticulously.

Grief isn't a linear thing, and letting go of the dream I had always held of having more than one child was a hard thing. To put this into perspective, my aunt once commented that she thought I would end up with 6, yes six, kids. I thought that was a little excessive, but it does help point out how alien the idea of having just one child is for me.

It isn't that I am not eternally grateful for the opportunity to be blessed with Little Man and the chance to experience motherhood in this way. I adore him and if he is the only child we ever have, he will be showered in more love than he'll know what to do with.

And therein lies my thinking – I have so much love to give, surely it must be in the plan for us to have another?

But more and more lately I have been coming to terms with the realisation that having another child naturally is just not the right choice for us. It isn't just a case of 9 months of sickness and poor health (as if that isn't enough, because believe me that sucks big time!) But for me it is also the recovery and the fact that my hormones seem to hate me and even 17.5 months after giving birth I am still struggling…

I let the gynaecologists brush me aside last summer with the words, "nausea is not a typical symptom of Endometriosis, it's just a lifestyle thing!" I should know better by now than to listen to them. It may not be a typical symptom for most women, but it is one of mine. Fast forward a few more months and the classic Endo pains have started to resurface, and I still haven't got anything under control. 

And all of this makes me realise that to have another baby of our own, we're risking 2+years of poor health for me. I do struggle with Little Man, I truly do some days, because I feel like absolute crap. But that is because of my health and it doesn't have to be this way…

When I first met TJ, I had my Endo under control (as much as you can do with Endo). I was healthy and I was happy. I had energy and I did all sorts of things. But since then I've been subjected to several awful hormonal treatments and struggled through a pregnancy with various complications. It's no wonder my body is struggling to get back to a healthy state.

But I have hope and faith that it will do. And when that day comes I really and truly do not want to jeopardize it and go straight back to square one because I want another baby. It isn't worth it, for me or my family. I don't bounce back from these things easily and so I have to make a responsible decision rather than one based on emotion alone.

I've known this all along, but suddenly I feel a kind of peaceful acceptance falling over me. It's not that I don't have days when I wish things could be different, but it does mean that I am beginning to accept that the path I am being led to take is a different one to that which I expected.

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So this past couple of weeks I have been working on letting go of that final little bit of "false hope" in order to heal my heart and make room for what is to come. Whether that is as a parent to an only child, or a family extended through adoption, or even offering up our homes to those in need through fostering, I need to heal my heart in order to move forward with this.

It feels like the right time. It feels like I shall be able to give away Little Man's baby clothes to someone who wants or needs them. Ditto with my maternity clothes. It will hurt, I know it will, but I feel like the time has come when I will be able to do it. That hasn't happened before.

Of course, this in itself is not a decision to be rushed. We need time to heal, as a family and as individuals. Our emotional journey through conception, pregnancy, birth, the first year and beyond is going to take time to deal with. We're still reeling from some of the things that happened that we just could not face at the time. 

And equally, there will be times when we desperately wish that things had turned out differently. As it is, when I mentioned how I was feeling to TJ the other day I expected him to be relieved (as he has always been the one who seemed much more able to accept us not having another baby one day) and yet he seemed deeply saddened by it. So of course this is something we need to talk about together over time as well. But for now, I needed to make a record of how I was feeling in this moment. 

And right now, that's scared as hell of taking that final leap and truly letting go… but it has to happen sometime, and I feel that time is coming fast!

The Hardest Decision (HG)

If you haven't been following this blog for long enough to know about our Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) journey, then you can catch up here.

I've been wanting to write this post for a few days now but really wasn't sure how to start. So let's go straight in at the crux of the matter: TJ and I made a promise to ourselves last week that we will never put ourselves (and Little Man and our families) through another pregnancy.

We've been going backwards and forwards between "never again" and "but we might want another child". Okay, who am I kidding? I've always imagined having 2 or 3 children and the thought of stopping at one is a very hard one to get my head (and heart) around. But HG made our life such hell that even I began to believe the "never again" option…

And so when that jealousy and anguish started to kick in when Little Man was just a few months old, when I realised I'd never get to experience the newborn stage again, never get to give birth again and cherish those first few hours with my baby, I lost my resolve. I began to believe that if we planned everything meticulously it might be possible. It certainly seemed preferable to that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I heard of another friend having a baby or saw a random pregnant lady walking about town with a smile on her face.

But the more we talked about it and the more I researched it the scarier the whole thing became. We realised that we would have to wait until Little Man was in full-time education (so almost 5 thanks to him being a September baby) and that we'd have to spend a good year prior to trying to conceive preparing ourselves and Little Man physically, mentally and emotionally. 

It would mean potentially getting my health to a certain level only to risk it dropping to one of its lowest points again. And it's not as if my health is great at the best of times! I've had difficulties with my periods since they began in my early teens, but in the past 5-10 years they have really taken a toll on me. And not surprising when I realised that the pain I felt with my Endometriosis was akin to the pain experienced in labour! I had been going to school, university and work for years in the same level of pain as early labour, only thinking to take the day off when it got to the level of transitional labour. And doing that month in and month out, especially when I'd sometimes only go 2 or 3 weeks between periods, has taken it's toll.

So my recovery from pregnancy has been a slow one, what with the reappearance of my periods at 3 months post-partum, complete with nausea. 

And then there are the other factors playing against us. Things like my increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy (thanks to damage from the Endo to one of my fallopian tubes) and the risk of possibly developing Obstetric Cholestasis again. And I was considered at risk of developing Pre-eclampsia throughout my last pregnancy so may well have that as a factor again. And all of this made me begin to think that there were just far too many reasons not to have another pregnancy than to do it all again.

We were lucky that I fell pregnant quickly last time and that Little Man came out healthy and strong. There is no guarantee we'd have the same luck a second time. And the emotional trauma that both TJ and I experienced is ongoing. The guilt I feel at having put us both through it once is bad enough. And that was with going into it having no idea how bad it would be. To do it a second time knowing just how bad it could be, well that would just be too much.

So logically the decision makes perfect sense. 

And yet it is one of the hardest, if not the hardest things I have ever had to do. 

My head and my heart have been at war. And it was tearing me apart. So it felt like a relief to make a final decision, rather than going back and forth between one choice and the other. But it still hurts. 

One of the things I had to do in my CBT sessions recently was write a list of "I deserve…" and it was hard. What I wanted to write was, "I deserve to be healthy. I deserve to have another baby. I deserve to enjoy pregnancy". But I couldn't, because I know that it really isn't likely. Endo continues to affect my health and even if I had another baby of my own it is highly likely it would be a battle rather than a joy. 

According to my therapist, this is the point. These are things that I should be able to write, even if they aren't likely. That I should feel justified in the pain and sadness it brings knowing that these are things I should be able to experience. But it doesn't change the reality…

But even though it is hard, I know it is the right decision for my family. The pain at not having the chance to do all those things connected to carrying and giving birth to your own baby is far less than the pain we could feel by trying to do it all again in spite of all the things against us.

It hurts to know I'll never get to breastfeed another baby, especially as we had such troubles when Little Man was young. It hurts to know we'll never get to go to another scan, to see our baby for the first time, to choose a name and prepare our hearts and lives for a new baby. It hurts in a way that I know some people will know in their own hearts, but so many others will never understand. Not fully.

We feel blessed that Endometriosis didn't rob us of my fertility, but at the same time it is a leading contributor to the decision to never do it again. The time it takes for me to recover from pregnancy and the risk of Ectopic pregnancies that it has caused combined with the risk of complications during pregnancy makes me feel like, in some way, we have more in common with those who physically cannot have a baby than those who can. Because we feel it is an option we just cannot take, however much we'd like to.

But where does that leave us for support? We could try for another baby, so don't really have infertility issues. We're not actively trying and unable to. But choosing not to is not our first choice. 

This is why it is so important for me to dedicate as much of my time and energy to raising awareness of HG and that it is so much more than "severe Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy". There needs to be much more understanding of just how bad it can be. There needs to be much more research into potential causes of it and possible medications to help with the severity of the symptoms. There needs to be far more support. All of this is needed to help prevent other women having to face these exact same decisions and to support them if they do.

TJ and I are heading off to the annual conference held by Pregnancy Sickness Support this month, and I am working hard on reading through as much research as I can and bringing together as many "personal experiences" as possible from other HG sufferers and survivors to ensure the book I am writing is as accurate, informative, supportive and representative as possible. It is a big task but it is one close to my heart.

And having this project helps, in a small way, to give meaning to all of this. As a writer, this is an ideal project for me. It gives a purpose to my work. And gives me something positive to focus on rather than only the negative.

TJ and I still have a lot of healing to do. And we still have some big decisions to make. The biggest of all being do we remain as a one child family, or do we look into fostering and/or adoption. And I'm sure I'll be writing about this a lot over the next few years. But for now, we've made the hardest decision of all. Little Man is to be our only biological child. Our journey of creating a family in the natural way is over. And that is taking some getting used to…

NB: I must add here that since writing this I have done much more research and we have discovered just how badly managed my pregnancy was and how we could potentially have a better experience a second time round, is still difficult. So we have opened it up to a "maybe" again, however not for several more years yet!!

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I just wanted to let you all know that I have now updated the page on Hyperemesis Gravidaum here on the blog.

I have been struggling a lot with this over the past few days and have plenty I’d like to write about, but also have very limited time to blog right now because I want to spend as much time with Little Man as possible.

In short, I have been struggling with seeing other pregnant women, especially those pregnant with a second or third child, because that makes me face my decision to never go through pregnancy again. And that hurts. Anyone who knows me well will know I always looked forward to being pregnant and having a family and to turn my back on expanding my family in that way is painful.

As it stands we won’t want to even think of expanding our family until Oscar is several years older because I need to get my health sorted, having been ill for several years with Endometriosis and the treatments for it before my Hyperemesis Gravidarum hell last year. We still aren’t sure whether we will have more than one child and whether that addition will be through adoption or not.

This past week I started wondering if I shouldn’t have said “never again” so hastily during my pregnancy and yet I know I would be terrified to try again. So basically I am torn in two by it all and am trying to work through my thoughts and emotions rather than pushing them down and letting them build to unbearable levels.

Of course these decisions don’t need to be made now. And I am more than happy with Oscar being an only child for the time being. I love every minute with him and want to cherish these early years and would be quite happy if we didn’t expand the family until he was 4, 5 even 6 maybe. But I know that one day I will have to make the decision as to whether I can face the possibility of HG again or whether Tim and I need to look at adoption or even remaining a one child family.

So I am trying to deal with these emotions as they come up. I don’t want to feel jealous every time I see a pregnant woman. I don’t want to have to change channel every time an advert for One Born Every Minute comes on the tv, or turn of Twitter because it is trending. I don’t want to become bitter about it, and so that means I need to work through it.

So I decided now was the time to finally get around to writing my page on Hyperemesis and I would be hugely grateful if you would check it out.

This post has been added to the Tuesday Tea and Sympathy Linky. Click on the image below to check out the other posts taking part.

 


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Emotional Fallout

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Hello, I'm 4 weeks old and I'm gorgeous!

I can't believe it has been 4 weeks since we met Little Man and already our life as a family of three feels so right that we cannot imagine it being any other way.

There are so many things I want to write about already, and yet it is the very fact that so much is happening in our lives that I want to write about that keeps me from writing. I am far too busy loving on my boy to get online to write these days. But I will be back soon as the things I want to write need to be written, if nothing more than to give me a record of all the things I'm thinking and feeling right now!

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One of the major things which I think will take several posts to cover, is the emotional fallout of the pregnancy I had. Whilst in it I couldn't wait for it to be over and the nightmare of how ill I was to pass. I never, ever wanted to be pregnant again and although that thought hurt me inside, I was too focussed on the physical to deal with the emotional side of things (not to mention that crying made me throw up!)

But now Little Man is here and I get to fall in love with every part of him more each day I realise just how big that is. I see his tiny toes and his attempts to smile and realise we won't do this again. And that hurts. I see my sister-in-law pregnant with her third child, looking forward to the new arrival with her first two children and realise Little Man will never get to experience the anticipation of a baby brother or sister. And it hurts. But more than that, when I look at him and know he was worth every second of being so ill I feel guilty for not being willing to do it again. But I can't. I don't want to put myself or TJ through that again. Nor do I want to miss out on several months of Little Man's life through being that ill again. And that really hurts.

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Deep down I know how incredibly blessed we were to fall pregnant and have a very healthy baby boy at the end of the pregnancy. Some people never get to live this dream. I will never forget that, but it doesn't stop the hurt.

And even without these aspects of the pregnancy experience I had there are still the remnants of sickness that remain 4 weeks later, the extreme exhaustion from being very ill for 9 months, and the fear surrounding both getting ill or falling pregnant again. There are certain foods I don't think I'll ever want to touch again. There are certain songs, tv programmes, and books that take me right back to the moments I listened to, watched or read them in an attempt to take my mind off how very sick I felt. And I have a feeling that certain times of the year will always remind me of my very worst days.

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Don't get me wrong: I am loving being a mum and I am spending most of my days with a massive grin on my face. But the emotional fallout is still there and it hits me at the strangest of times. I imagine it will take quite some time to work through it all and I am sure I will have a lot to write about in weeks to come. But for now I just wanted to note that although I am in heaven with my baby boy, there are these emotions that need to be recognised, honoured and faced and so it may take me a while to get back to regular blogging and I may even take to blogging several posts at a time if my mind needs to get several things sorted at some point. But whichever way it happens, I will keep writing and posting photos of my dear, sweet boy!

Thank you for reading xx

Welcome Little Man!

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Tomorrow (25th) should have been my due date. But due to the cholestasis, I was induced a week early.

The above photo was taken on 17th, the day before my induction. TJ and I were on a last-chance attempt to kick things off naturally by going on a ridiculously long walk and bouncing up and down on the see-saw at the park. Not an easy feat with a massive bump, I can tell you!

So Sunday 18th we went to the hospital at 8am for monitoring, and they began my induction at 9am with a low dose of prostin gel. It wasn't long before I was getting "tightenings" every 3 mins approximately, which continued throughout the day. However I was stuck at 2cm dilated for hours. 

A couple of baths, a couple of paracetamol, and lots of moving around helped with the pain but as the evening drew in I began to feel really sick. TJ went home at 8pm and throughout the night it became obvious that things were not quite going as well as they could. I was still dilating and eventually reached 5cm by about 5am, but I had also developed very high blood pressure, my heart rate was so fast they couldn't tell if the monitor was picking up mine or baby's heartbeat and I had ketones in my urine. So I was hooked up to a monitor and a drip and finally sent to the labour ward for them to break my waters and get things moving quicker.

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This is just after I'd had my waters broken and before things got really intense. TJ wanted to show how many things I was hooked up to at this point. It made moving into comfortable positions difficult and once my waters were broken and the contractions coming thick and fast I started to lose control.

Everyone had been commenting up until this point how calm I was and how they found it hard to believe I had been contracting regularly and reached 5cm dilated plus feeling so sick from the way my body was reacting to the labour with having only taken a couple of paracetamol. And I had quite reasonably replied that the intensity of the pain was no worse than what I got with my periods thanks to Endometriosis and that I had been to work in worse pain than this. However, with the added pressure of baby's head finally descending fully into the pelvis and the loss of the calmer moments between contractions this soon changed!

I quickly agreed to a half dose of diamorphine thinking there was no way I could face another 12 hours being as exhausted as I was. I was slightly put out by the midwife's comments that "labour is hard" in a sort of "what do you expect" kind of way. But she was good enough to suggest a dose of anti-emetic intravenously through my drip to help ease the side effects of the diamorphine and that a lower dose should be easier to cope with.

TJ says it was like my whole body sighed when it started to kick in, but all I remember is saying "I feel really woozy, I'm going to lie down now" and crawling onto the bed. I never thought I would labour lying down, but it was truly the only way I could cope and actually it worked to my benefit. Within 2 and a half hours I had dilated the final 5cm and although the diamorphine did nothing for the pain, it did help me drift off between contractions and so I had no idea of time passing. So I relaxed and my body took over and before I knew it every time I "woke up" to a contraction my body was pushing all on its own. 

The midwife, though later telling me that I had been considered the lady least likely to deliver that day, was thrilled to see this and a quick examination showed I was ready. So I sat up to try and give birth but the urge to push disappeared. Two or three contractions later I decided to lay back down on my side and suddenly my body was pushing all on its own accord again. 

It took an hour of pushing (though it felt much shorter to me because I was still drifting off between contractions) to give birth to my boy. I remember vague things like the midwife teasing TJ about pushing along with me and her telling me she could see the head, but mostly I was just aware of letting my body do the work and not thinking too much about it. In fact I was so "in the zone" that when the midwife suddenly said "look down" and I saw my baby had been born I couldn't quite believe it!

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Little Man (OJD) was born at 11.27am on Monday 19th September weighing a hefty 9lbs 6oz. Nobody could quite believe I had carried and given birth to such a big baby as I am only small myself, but here he was. Proof that no matter how sick I was throughout the pregnancy, my body had done an excellent job of providing my baby with all he needed. 

Unfortunately, I was advised to have a managed third stage because of the risk of excessive bleeding from the cholestasis and I ended up surviving the labour without being sick but then throwing up for quite some time after the birth thanks to the injection they use to get the placenta to deliver. So between that and still being very dopey from the diamorphine, I missed a lot of the first few hours and TJ was left to enjoy the "skin-to-skin" contact as I dozed.

I also had to be taken to theatre for stitching as not only was Little Man a big boy, he also came out with his hand by his head and I ended up with a third degree tear. So that was another hour I missed with him. And because I had been given diamorphine, albeit a smaller dose than normal, so close to giving birth Little Man was very sleepy too. So we didn't do huge amounts of bonding that day.

However I had to stay in hospital until Wednesday, so we spent a lot of that time getting to know each other. And daddy joined in too whenever he was visiting, and spent a lot of time just enjoying "skin-to-skin" contact with the baby boy he fell in love with so totally. 

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We have been home since Wednesday afternoon and after a couple of very difficult nights when Little Man just wanted to feed constantly (which we think is his making up for not taking much over the first 24-36 hours) and my hormones going crazy and my milk coming in, we are finally starting to get to grips with being parents.

It is so different to anything I ever imagined. So precious. And so unbelievable that we have him here. 

I cannot even comprehend how my pregnancy created this beautiful boy. And I find myself blocking out the whole experience because I cannot emotionally connect the two things. I very often resented being pregnant, but I love my baby boy so much that my mind cannot find a way of accepting that the two are so closely interconnected. I find myself thinking "was it really that bad?" when I look at Little Man, but then I realise that it truly was while I was in it. It is as if I wasn't myself for 9 whole months and now I am me again, but a different me as now I am a mum.

I think it will take me a long time to come to terms with the pregnancy I had. But being a mum, well that is just the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. And it is only day 5. I'm going to treasure every single moment as I know we won't ever be doing this again and it is just so exciting to know that our baby has the whole world to discover. Being a parent has been harder than we ever imagined already, but the love it gives us is so much bigger.

I'll be back soon with some more photos, but for now I just wanted to let you know he was here and I am enjoying all the cuddles I can get with him!

Sunday 18th is THE day!

Just a quick update for those of you who don't follow me on twitter or see me on facebook (or know me in real life, obviously!)

Our appointment at the assessment unit went well yesterday. Baby is still moving like a trooper (even managed to kick one of the monitors off my bump several times!) and his heart rate is perfect. So that is a relief.

However cholestasis has been officially diagnosed and so I am now on medication for it, have to return for monitoring Wednesday and Friday this week, and am being induced Sunday morning. 

So it is just a case of taking it easy (especially as my feet and ankles are so very swollen these days) and keeping an eye on baby's movements on the days when we don't go in for monitoring until Sunday arrives.

I'm hoping all the cramps I've been having (which the monitoring yesterday suggests are actually braxton hicks) is my body starting to prepare for labour anyway so we might have a bit of luck and get somewhere with the induction rather than going on for days and days with no progress… here's hoping!

Thanks for all your thoughts and hopefully sometime next week I shall be making the announcement of our little man's arrival. 

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Life at the Patch – 38 weeks

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I normally write my "Life at the Patch" posts on a Monday but tomorrow could be an interesting day for us so I decided to write this week's today instead.

As you all know by now, I'm sure, I have found pregnancy extremely challenging. Between Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Pelvic GIrdle Pain and Anaemia, I've been feeling pretty rough. But the past few weeks have been particularly demanding. 

So when I saw the midwife last Thursday I was having a good old moan about it all and happened to mention that the itching on my hands (which until recently had always been the backs of the hands only) had progressed to the palms of my hands. To be honest when I think back I realise this itching has been getting increasingly worse for several weeks but I had just put it down to eczema, despite occasionally wondering why it wasn't really accompanied by the usual blisters I get with eczema. 

This, of course, made the midwife decide we needed to do a blood test to check my liver function and to rule out Obstestric Cholestasis. The phonecall I received on Friday informed me that the intial results showed no obvious signs of a problem, but I would hear more on Monday. So I was advised to watch the itching and baby's movements and any change in either meant I had to call someone.

As I was expecting to hear more tomorrow, I was a little surprised to get a call on my mobile from one of the midwives on duty yesterday to inform me that the further results had come through and the levels of bile salts in my blood are raised. Meaning I now have to see a consultant tomorrow. 

From what I have been told and what I have read, it seems pretty standard procedure to induce labour around 37 to 38 weeks when Obstetric Cholestasis is a factor, and as today marks the beginning of week 38 for me, we are pretty much preparing ourselves to be told tomorrow that this is the plan of action. Which means that Tim has asked me to ensure that my hospital bag is ready to be taken to the car so that we are ready to go without any last minute fuss. 

Of course we know it's not going to be a mad rush, but we are thinking that the more we prepare now the better it will be, especially as we do not know whether we can get in to see a consultant here or have to travel to Lincoln hospital, in which case it would make sense to take my hospital bag over and potentially camp in my parents' spare room rather than travelling backwards and forwards. And anyway, we had only just been discussing the fact that it might make sense to have the bag in the car ready before we even knew we'd be seeing someone tomorrow. So it's just one of those times when we are trying to be organised now so that we aren't stressing over whether we've forgotten something if I go into labour or we have to head over for an induction. 

I won't know until tomorrow morning when or where our appointment will be, nor whether the consultant's advice is to induce or wait and see, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pre-occupied whatever happens this next week or two, so just wanted to give everyone a "heads up" that we're still here, we're still ok, but I might not be online as much as usual for a little bit. I promise though to get online as soon as I can once baby is born to let you all know the good news, even if in a one-line, straight-to-the-point-as-I'm-too-busy-bonding-with-my-baby-to-want-to-write-a-proper-blog-post-thank-you-very-much kind of way!! 

Have a wonderful week everyone xx

Life at the Patch – 37 weeks!

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It's been a joyous weekend here at the Patch…

We are, as of yesterday, officially FULL TERM!! 

That means little man can come any time now without us worrying that he is just a tad early. There were times when I couldn't imagine getting to this point, and yet here we are. We have our first (and only) antenatal class tomorrow and then I'd be happy if the little guy decided to make his entrance into the world sooner rather than later.

I shall never, ever forget how lucky we have been to have this baby. And despite being incredibly ill with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, my body has done remarkably well. My iron levels, which were borderline at 28 weeks, are now low enough for me to be diagnosed as anaemic and yet I am surprised I made it this far before iron tablets were needed, bearing in mind I barely managed to eat or drink for the first 5 months of pregnancy!! And despite being considered at higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia, my blood pressure has actually remained lower than normal throughout, and yesterday was the first time I noticed any swelling whatsoever.

I would never dream of suggesting that the pregnancy wasn't an amazing experience, because growing a new life is incredibly rewarding in so many ways. But it has been a challenge far greater than any I have ever faced and I know in my heart I could never face it again, not knowing how bad it could be nor how very long 9 months seems when you are so sick all the way through. It's been hard enough dealing with it when only working part-time and being able to spend a large majority of the time resting. I couldn't do it again with a toddler to care for. 

And this makes these last few days or weeks (depending on when he comes) that much more special. No matter how much pain I'm in nor how sick I feel, I'm very aware of how much I need to cherish these remaining moments when my body is doing something so natural and yet so miraculous (and something that so many people never get to experience). For all the times I cried over how very ill I felt, I am glad to have been given the chance to experience this. I'll never forget the gift we've been given and just hope I can cherish every moment with my baby once he is here.

Because of this, I have found the latest facebook "game" that is supposedly raising awareness for breast cancer hard to deal with. I'm not going to write about it now, as I want to ensure I give it the proper time and attention and shall post later this week with some of the links to bloggers and articles that speak far more deeply about it than I can. But until then would it be too much to ask you to refrain from participating in the "I'm ___ weeks and craving ___" game that implies you are pregnant because far from being a harmless bit of fun, it is incredibly hurtful to so many (again, I shall provide links about this in a later post!) 

And, in other pregnancy/baby related news, one of my newer blog friends who I discovered earlier this year has just given birth to her second daughter. You may remember KK from The Mom Diggity from her guest post last month about adoption. Well, go check out her blog this week to hear all the news about becoming a family of four and see some of the truly awesome items that she has got for the baby from some wonderful crafters!

Life at the Patch – 36 weeks

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Photo taken at 34 (?) weeks… impossible to imagine I'm even bigger now!!

Sorry for the lack of regular posting of late. I am just feeling so tired and uncomfortable that finding the time to sit and write up any of the million things going through my mind is just too much like hard work some days. I'm sure you'll understand!

I'm now 36 weeks (and 2 days, to be precise). Which means that come Sunday I shall be classed as "full-term" and I only have 26 days until my actual due date. Doesn't sound like much, does it? And yet these past couple of weeks have dragged by so slowly that it feels like far longer to go.

I'm tired, I'm grumpy, and I'm ready for the nightmare of (my) pregnancy to be over. I always expected to love every moment of being pregnant but instead I have hated almost everything about it: the sickness, the pain, the sleeplessness… did I mention the sickness?

I've been feeling sick a lot lately. Not that I've had a single day since about the beginning of week 5 when I didn't feel nauseated. But I did have a blessed couple of months between weeks 24 and 30 when the nausea was almost forgetable. I even began to think that time would actually whizz by and I'd enjoy the latter part of my pregnancy. Oh how naive I can be!

Add to that the fact that I am getting cramps almost daily now, and some pretty intense stabbing pains and you'll see why I am ready for it to be over and my little man to finally be here. I know we have been utterly blessed to fall pregnant naturally and carry to term (well we're close enough now!) and I'll never underestimate how lucky we have been. But it has been a very long, hard journey for us both and we're more than ready for it to be over and for our new journey as parents to begin. 

It's going to be hard. There are going to be days when I doubt myself. There are going to be days when Tim gets home from work and the first thing I do is thrust the baby at him and say tearfully, "here, you take him, he hasn't stopped crying all day, I'm going for a bath!!" And there will be days when I wonder why on earth I was so desperate to have a newborn. But there will be just as many days when I hope to be utterly transfixed by the beauty of the life we created and the bonds we are building with him. And I cannot wait for those to start, no matter how hard the rest of it may be.

We're almost there, and yet it feels so far away still. So please excuse me if I don't blog as much as normal. I'm sure I'll have plenty to tell you once little man is born, but for now I just want to focus on getting through the coming days and weeks until he is here. 

Maternity Photos

Warning: this post contains several pregnancy photos, so if you find those difficult to look at, please do come back tomorrow when a new post will be showing at the top of the screen!

Yesterday was a very strange day here at the Patch. Despite being very excited for the photoshoot I had planned with my "official photographer" Dawn, the day started off with first a sleepless night thanks to nightmares and then a phonecall with some very shocking and sad news. I'm not going to go into details right now as it doesn't feel right at the present moment, but with the entire family trying to get their heads round what had happened, it felt strange to be carrying on as normal, almost like time should have stopped for a while.

Have you ever felt excited about one thing and sad at another at exactly the same time? It's a strange mixture of emotions and for a few moments I wondered whether perhaps I should cancel the shoot and reschedule it for another day. But I'm glad I didn't, because it brought my focus back to the joy in our lives right now. And it was a lot of fun.

Dawn and I have been discussing a new series for the Patch based around photography and one of the thoughts we had was to take photos of certain topics that Dawn could then write about, giving hints and tips to people who want to have a go at it themselves. Obviously, the first photoshoot we planned was a maternity one and I cannot wait to share Dawn's tips with you once she has had chance to write that article, because I'm sure there are many ladies like me who want to capture this special time in their lives but do not want to or have the funds to have a professional shoot. 

You may remember that we didn't have a professional photographer on our wedding day, but chose to let 3 of our friends take as many photos as they felt like. Dawn was one of those three and has recently been dubbed "my official photographer" as she knows just how to grab those shots that show our personalities so well. I like to think it's because she's a quirky as we are, or we're as quirky as she is, and so we don't really need to plan photos as such, just take a lot of shots as we enjoy ourselves.

Which is how the following photos came out. I'm going to share a small selection, however as is usual when working with someone like Dawn, there are far too many good shots to include in one post. So I'm planning on setting up some photo galleries here on the blog so that you can see the work that Dawn has done and I can link back to them when her articles go live. 

But for now, here are some of my favourites from the day!

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Tim started off by being artistic and painting flowers on my bump (can I just say I always forget just how big my bump is as I never see it from this kind of angle!)

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But he then went slightly mad and we ended up with this piece of art, which Tim quickly named "Storm in a Lawnmower". 

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So we wiped it off and let Dawn get to it. Dawn is an awesome painter of dragons (I have several dragon birthday cards and a glorious painting she made us for our wedding which I really must share with you sometime). Having her paint them on my bump was funny, and little man did a whole lot of wriggling, so we're guessing he likes dragons and dinosaurs as much as she does!

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I then decided to get changed so that we could take some more "serious" shots. I don't really do serious, but I did know I wanted to catch a few more intimate shots to keep. We had fun playing with light and shadow…

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And we even took a few outside. However, being as overcast as it was and having washing on the line, we kept the outdoor shots to a minimum. Well, the outdoor shots of me anyway: Dawn had a lot of fun taking photos of our flowers and veggies, but who can blame her? I'll share some of those photos later in the week.

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It didn't take long before Tim was up to his old tricks however. I'm not sure that I ever did share his impression of "Psycho" from the photos of us cutting the wedding cake. But if you've been following this blog for any length of time I'm sure you've seen many photos with Tim messing around in them. I'm not sure messing around with my top while I was cutting the vegetables for dinner was the best idea, you know pregnant lady with a sharp knife and all that! But what can I say? The boy makes me laugh, daily. 

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Case in point. What started as a "couple" shot, ended up with Tim playing a vampire. 

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I may sometimes "look" irritated momentarily…

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But I quickly get my own back!

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And Tim is always up for a laugh, even if it does mean looking a bit ridiculous!

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Of course we had to take a photo to prove that yes I have actually overtaken Tim on the belly front and that compared to my bump, he looks rather svelte indeed! Have I mentioned how practically all of the weight I have gained has gone directly onto my bump? I am one solid lump out front, but still relatively small everywhere else. And I haven't a stretchmark in sight, much to the annoyance of my friend. I thank my mum for her excellent genes when it comes to the skin… thanks mum!

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Finally, we couldn't forget to get a shot of daddy talking to his son. Tim finds real joy in shouting into my bump and then laying his head against it to see if he can get a reply. Just the other day I was concerned that little man hadn't moved much at all (he is usually on the go all day long) and Tim's response was to blow a massive raspberry on my belly. I think the resulting kick he got in the face was just priceless. Who says daddy and son can't have fun even before birth? 

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some of these photos. As I say, my plan is to get a section on the site for photo galleries so I can upload these and other photos into categories that are easy to search and look through. So keep your eyes peeled for that new addition.

And come back tomorrow to meet yet another guest blogger. I feel so honoured that so many people have taken up my offer to host guest posts here at the Patch and hope that several more of you might consider it in the future too. 

The End of a Long Year!

My latest article for iVillageUK focuses on preparing for the birth of our son next month. As you all know, pregnancy has been incredibly difficult for me physically, mentally and emotionally and although becoming a parent is going to be a real challenge, I am ready for the end of the pregnancy and our new life as a family of three to begin.

I often feel as if time has changed over the past few months and it’s as if I haven’t really been here, but locked in my own strange little world of pregnancy woes. And yet, looking back at the very first article I wrote for ivillage I realise just how much has changed and how crazy it is to think that it hasn’t even been a year since I started writing these weekly articles.

In fact, I am pretty sure that the beginning of my series on Endometriosis and Trying to Conceive started around the same point in September as my baby is due. Now that is rather mind-blowing when you think about the fact that the series started from the uncertainty of coming off birth control and trying for a baby.

It was truly difficult to keep the news of our pregnancy quiet until the end of my first trimester, especially when I was so sick. I continued writing articles on trying to conceive because I had thought it would take us much longer to fall pregnant and so had many topics I still wanted to cover. But it was very strange writing them when knowing we had been blessed with our little man.

And so when I was invited to continue writing my articles from a pregnancy point of view I was thrilled. What better opportunity can someone who loves writing and sharing experiences possibly be given than to write for such a website? And suddenly I was writing about a whole new range of difficulties and Endometriosis was rarely mentioned.

Don’t get me wrong, I am loving writing about pregnancy and am happy to say that I have been offered the chance to continue writing once the baby is here from a parenting point of view. But it does leave me wondering whether I am neglecting a cause I feel really strongly about: Endometriosis Awareness.

Just because I fell pregnant and haven’t had so many issues directly related to Endometriosis in recent months, it is still very much a part of my life. I wonder how I will be after the birth. Will my periods return quickly and will they be as painful and troublesome as before? What might be different? And how will it affect my ability to be the best mother I can be if I am ill on a regular basis?

And the closer I come to giving birth the more I wonder about this and the more I realise that I seem to have come full circle, so to speak. My emphasis is on my long-term health again rather than the difficulties of pregnancy and I am determined to use my voice to raise awareness of Endometriosis, as well as so many other things I am passionate about. In fact pregnancy has given me more things to campaign for, such as better research and support for those suffering from such debilitating conditions such as hyperemesis and PGP.

I’m all for using my own experiences to help direct my writing and work, and yet it has been hard to know what to write of late as there is so much running through my mind. So it has been wonderful to have guest bloggers share in spreading the word about Endometriosis. If you missed it, please do check out Danielle’s post explaining all the work she has been doing to raise awareness of it. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for Jen’s Endometriosis Awareness Tote Bag/Hot Water Bottle Cozy and Purse. You only have until Friday to enter (by spreading awareness in one of the four ways described at the end of this post) and it would be a shame to miss this opportunity to get the word out and make a difference in any way you can!

 

Life At The Patch – 32 Weeks

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photo taken at 30 weeks, about to head to a wedding

According to the "ticker" I have on the Mums Due forum I visit, I have 55 days left until my due date… 55 days!! In some ways that feels so small and in other ways it still feels like such a long way away. The ladies on my forum all keep saying how fast the past few months have gone and that they cannot believe we are all due so soon, and yet because of how horrendously difficult my pregnancy has been I feel the exact opposite. It feels like a lifetime since January and I'm looking forward to days feeling that little bit shorter again once my body is back to just trying to keep me safe and well.

That's not to say I want the days and weeks to fly by when the little one gets here, though I'm sure they will. And I have to say that realising I have such a short amount of time left has given me a bit of a kick up the bum. My lovely mum has been here over the weekend and she has helped me wash all the baby clothes and blankets, all of which are gifts I hasten to add, and we've had fun pegging them out on the line together (or rather my mum pegging them on the line and me watching) and imagining what it will be like when our little man is here and we're dressing him in them. I'm sure laundry won't be half as thrilling once I'm washing poopy nappies and clothes than have been puked on, but this weekend we revelled in the sight of so many tiny little outfits hanging on the line.

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We're also sorting out the nursery. Last week I worked my way through my boxes of craft supplies and hastily filled new boxes with things to keep, things to go in the loft, and things to give away (as well as the rubbish bin!) My mum is far more organised than me and without the bump she is much quicker too, and so she has been a star and rearranged by terribly packed boxes and is currently sorting out the last few bits so that my dad can come tomorrow and help Tim put the big boxes of stuff up in the loft and take the craft supplies I've given her home. 

This means that by tomorrow we will hopefully have the cot put up in our bedroom, the ottoman moved into the hallway, and the furniture in the guest room rearranged as they will be once it officially becomes the nursery. I cannot wait to show you all.

We're still far from finished, though, and Tim and I have some things we really have to do over the coming weeks, such as sorting out the cupboard under the stairs so that there is room to store the stroller, and ordering the cot mattress. We also have to pack my hospital bag. We have most of the essentials, including the Tens Machine I bought second hand, but the bag still needs actually packing. 

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The thought of how close we are is just wonderful but also slightly scary. I just want it to be over now and the little one to be here. I saw the midwife last week and I am still measuring ahead, but only by 1.5cm instead of 3. I'm also borderline anaemic, with my iron levels being 10.6 and my GP surgery prescribing iron for anything under 10.5. So I see the midwife in two weeks' time instead of three just to double check my bloods and the size of my bump. I've also been drilled yet again on the symptoms to watch out for in case I develop pre-eclampsia as I am at a higher risk of it due to family and personal medical histories. So all in all I'm not feeling too bad about being such a lump these days and having to rely on the help of others to get things done. 

Roll on September is all I can say, though, as then he could come at any time. Our estimated due date (EDD) is 25th September, but I keep telling myself that August is the last "full month" I have to survive as by the time September arrives we'll be approaching 37 weeks and classed as full-term. I still have a feeling this little one is going to make a slightly early appearance, but I'm not counting on it just in case he decides to be late!

So for now I am just plodding along, amusing everyone with the dances he seems to do inside (my mum says she has never known a baby move so much!) and hoping that the next few weeks do indeed fly by now we are so close. And until then, I have several posts planned for The Patch, so do check back soon to see what's going on. 

Endometriosis and Pregnancy

I'd like to say a quick thank you once again to Danielle for her brilliant guest post the other day. Please do check it out, and don't forget that her radio interview on the Pelvic Messenger is scheduled to start at 6pm GMT tomorrow (Thursday 28th July). 

It felt great to get some new information and thoughts on Endometriosis onto the blog as I have not written about it myself for such a long time. Part of the reason for this is that due to the intensity of my sickness and physical discomfort during my pregnancy I have had other things on my mind. But in talking to Danielle I realised something that I hadn't consciously accepted.

With Endometriosis being a major cause of infertility, being one of the "lucky ones" who managed to fall pregnant not only without medical interviention but also very quickly meant that I felt a certain uneasiness in sharing the news of my pregnancy and drawing attention to Endometriosis. Despite never having written solely about Endometriosis, I knew that posts about the topic could come up in search engines and bring new readers to the blog who were trying to come to terms with their own fertility issues and to then have them see pregnancy related posts seemed like it might be a smack in the face.

Things were made doubly difficult by the fact that pregnancy has been incredibly harsh on my body. I have been very ill from the word go and it has been an immense battle to keep going most days. I tried not to write too much about my struggles, again for the reason of not wanting to hurt someone inadvertently. And so not only did I steer clear of writing about Endometriosis, but I also limited my writing about Hyperemesis Gravidarum which, like Endometriosis, is a under-researched condition that is often poorly managed by the medical profession and scoffed at by those who believe it is merely "morning sickness".

And yet, despite all of this, there have been many times that I could have written about Endometriosis and pregnancy. Without a doubt, being able to have a baby is one of the most beautiful things and I am so glad that my husband and I escaped the heartbreak of infertility. But at the same time, having had such a challenging pregnancy I know I couldn't do it all again. Most people respond to this with the words "you never know how you'll feel once the baby is born" and "that's just because you are feeling so sick now". What they fail to see is that it isn't just the Hyperemesis Gravidarum making the decision for me (although that is a key point in the way I feel). What they do not realise is that life isn't as easy as deciding to have a baby and simply going for it. 

My husband and I had to think really hard about when the best time for us to try and conceive would be. I have suffered with painful periods since my early teens and since 2005 have had two laparoscopies, gone through two chemically induced pseudo-menopauses, and spent an awful lot of time struggling to cope with the demands of everyday life. Completing my degree was difficult when I was so tired all the time. Commuting and working in a busy environment was almost impossible on my worst days. And making the decision to relocate so that I could work fewer hours each week was exhausting in itself.

We did everything we could to ensure that I went into our pregnancy journey as fit and healthy as I could be. But it wasn't enough. I didn't have much in terms of reserves of energy and getting through the nightmare of Hyperemesis Gravidarum was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. Despite finally being on anti-emetics, I still feel sick a lot and add that to the pain of unstable joints and regular period-like cramping and stabbing pains which we think are caused by possible Endometriosis adhesions being stretched, and you'll see that pregnancy is not as easy is it first seems in our case. We may be able to fall pregnant naturally, but at what cost?

Don't get me wrong: I would never dream of comparing the hell of my pregnancy with the hell of infertility so many women have to face. But what I am saying is that it is so easy for people to misunderstand what I'm saying and even judge me harshly for it. I don't blame any woman who might read this and think "I'd go through as many 'difficult' pregnancies as possible if it meant I got to have my baby" because I know I would think the exact same thing were I unable to fall pregnant myself. But having experienced it I know that I could never do it again.

I have previously touched on my feelings regarding pregnancy, but it was only when talking to Danielle that I realised just how deep the discomfort this issue brings runs. By worrying about inadvertently upsetting someone I guarded my posts from ever truly touching on Endometriosis, which is still a major aspect of my life. It is almost like there are two groups people affected by Endometriosis, those whose fertility is unaffected and those who face infertility due to it. There are so many groups out there for women facing infertility and within that group there is another division: those who never get the chance to be parents and those who do. I've often read the blogs of women who previously found so much support from the infertile community only to wonder where they fit in now that they are expecting a baby or have a family of their own. And if it's hard for them to know what to say and do, having experienced the same feelings as the readers and friends they now worry about upsetting, then it's certainly hard for those of us who never had to face such things.

But does that mean that we should keep quiet about our own experiences and put on a brave face to hide the pain we are suffering ourselves? I feel almost like I have forgotten why I started writing about Endometriosis in the first place. My initial series on iVillageUK was about trying to conceive and mentioned Endometriosis a lot because at that time I had no idea how my fertility might be affected. Since becoming pregnant and starting a series called "a pregnancy journey" I have barely mentioned Endometriosis and it saddens me that I am missing a great opportunity to spread awareness through such a widely read medium. 

I remember talking to someone about how I would broach the subject of pregnancy on here and deciding that I would try and be as honest as I could about it because that it what this blog is all about. I write about life, my life in particular because that is what I know best after all, and that means writing about every aspect of it. Endometriosis may not be at the forefront of my mind during pregnancy, but it is always nagging away somewhere behind the more obvious things I'm dealing with right now. I worry about how soon my periods will return after the pregnancy is over. I wonder how bad the Endometriosis symptoms may be. I think about the fact that despite so many treatments over recent years the Endometriosis continued to grow and cause more and more havoc on my life, so what is my next option: do I try another form of birth control or see what my body does on its own for the first time in years? And how will all of this affect my ability to do all I want to as a mother? 

Yeah, there are many things I could write about regarding Endometriosis even during pregnancy, and even if there weren't I could still be promoting the work of others like Danielle, because at the end of the day Endometriosis is a chronic condition and it's going to be with me for a long time. But finding that balance between writing about it and trying to ensure I don't come across as "rubbing my pregnancy in other people's faces" is a difficult one. Yet it is one I need to find because if I am to live up to Danielle's kind words about me and the work I do for Endometriosis Awareness, then I need to be writing about it much more frequently than I have in recent months. 

So stay tuned for some new projects and ideas I have regarding Endometriosis over the coming months and please do get in touch if you are, or know someone who is, trying to live live with Endometriosis. It would be great to hear from you. 

And as a last thought, why not consider following me on Twitter? I finally built up the courage to overcome my complete lack of knowledge regarding it and joined up last night. You'll have to give me a few days/weeks to get to grips with how it works, but it would be great to see you there too. My username is @amandaspatch 

I loved you before I met you

As you know, poetry is something that I love to both read and write. I just love the way it can express your innermost feelings in such a beautiful way. There was a time when I wrote a new poem regularly, but in recent years other creative projects have taken the lead role in my free time and sitting down to write something new, whether poetry or a story, has become something of the past.

It's not that I didn't want to write, it's just that I wasn't inspired in the same way as I had been before. I'm one of those writers who likes to write when something moves me, rather than sitting down purposefully to scribble something down. There have been times I have scrawled the lines that popped into my head on napkins, the back of receipts and even the edge of a newspaper because I just didn't have anything else to hand. I loved such moments as those as I knew the words were coming from a very deep part of myself.

And that very thing happened to me this week. I was just getting ready for bed when the line "I loved you before I met you" popped straight into my head from nowhere. Immediately I knew it was important to write it down and so I grabbed a pen and paper and got to it. Within minutes I had a poem for our son that truly helped to express how I felt about the whole process of our becoming his parents. I showed it to Tim and he loved it, and we decided I would work on making it into something special for the little one.

What I didn't expect was that the very next day yet another poem would come pouring out. And I feel there is so much more in my heart I need to say. So my latest plan is to create a book for our boy, writing these little things in as and when they occur, so that as he grows he has something to look at and see just how we felt about him at each stage of his life. And this makes me happier than I can say.

I thought about sharing the poem with you all, but for once I feel it is right to keep these words between me, Tim and our little boy. Naturally our parents will get a look too, but it really feels too intimate and sacred to our little family to share so openly. And that is a whole new feeling for me, because usuallly I feel poetry is best when shared with as many people as possible.

Isn't it lovely, though, to have something that is like a secret between you and your nearest and dearest! I wonder what little secrets you have with your families…

Life at the Patch – 30 weeks

Phew! I'm finally in what feels like the final countdown now we have reached 30 weeks. I don't know why, but reaching the 30s just seems so much more in terms of "getting there" than hitting the third trimester did. I guess some of it is because I didn't know exactly when the third trimester began and being able to say I only have 10 weeks left until my due date feels so good!

We have a sneaky feeling that this little one is going to come a bit early, in fact several people have mentioned such. To be honest I wouldn't mind him arriving a little bit early, seeing as how incredibly difficult this pregnancy has been on my physically, but I'd like him to stay in long enough to be born well enough to go straight home. So hang on in there a little longer, little one.

Of course, getting this close to the birth is making me realise just how much still needs to be done and how very unprepared I still am for his arrival. Emotionally I'm ready, but in terms of being physically prepared there is still a bit to be done. Like I have to think about packing a hospital bag, washing all his clothes, putting the cot up, buying the mattress, getting the bedding sorted… just a few essentials like that.

I'm also starting to think more and more about the birth as it no longer feels miles off. I'm worried about the logistics of when to head to the hospital. We have a 45 minute drive (depending on traffic) between where we live and the hospital I am booked at to deliver. I'm lucky in that my parents live just around the corner from said hospital, so we plan on driving over before the labour progresses too far and hanging out there until it is time to actually go to the hospital itself. But I could be in labour for hours and I don't want to head over too early either. So this is something we have to sit down and properly discuss.

Then, of course, there is the concern about the labour itself. Personally I'm not overly worried too much about the pain, the physical exams, the whole being exposed to who knows how many medical professionals that often bother first-time mums. I just feel that having dealt with Endometriosis for so many years, I have a good idea of what my pain threshold is and how to deal with the lower levels of pain and at what point I need help. I've also had my fair share of internal examinations and having to rely on medical staff to help me get out of bed to go for my first pee after surgery etc. So although labour is a new experience, a lot of the details are things I can try and mentally prepare myself for prior to the event.

What does bother me, however, is the fact that I might get sick. A combination of Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) and having spent the majority of this pregnancy incredibly sick has made this a real issue for me. I know it is pretty common for women to throw up during labour and I am dreading it. I just don't like the thought of having to face that while dealing with contractions as feeling and/or being sick stresses me at the best of times (remember, this is a phobia, not just a dislike of being sick!) I'm hoping I might get lucky and not be ill, or be so focussed on dealing with the contractions and pushing the baby out that it won't be as big a deal for me as I imagine it could be. But it still bothers me when I think ahead to the birth. It is the one thing that truly terrifies me about labour. 

Still, I guess that as a first time mum I could be struggling more if I were fearful of the contractions and other aspects of labour and delivery that are a certainty rather than a possibility. And, as I keep trying to remind myself, even if I do throw up during labour, it will be the last time (or times) I will do so thanks to pregnancy and the end will be in sight rather than the horror I faced with the hyperemesis when I was sick all day, every day for months. 

Who you are and who you want to be

When considering what to write for my iVillage UK article this week I decided to focus on the emotional aspect of pregnancy as this weekend saw me really struggling to keep certain things in perspective. The main trigger for me this time round was that as this pregnancy has been so physically difficult for me I have had to rely a lot more on other people to do even the simplest things, and have become highly frustrated when the nausea, instable pelvis or sheer exhaustion have scuppered my plans to get things sorted ready for when the baby arrives.

Twice this weekend I was reminded just how little I have been able to get done and how much I have had to adapt to and accept a different way of living and it all just got a bit too much. I cried, several times, but in doing so I came to see the deeper aspect of all of this, namely the fact that we are facing one of the biggest changes of our lives in becoming parents and that is downright terrifying at times.

We are impatient to meet our little guy and yet there is so much to do and think about before he arrives. And then suddenly this weekend I realised that worrying over these practical things was covering up the insecurity I felt about myself. It was the same insecurity I felt when I left full-time work because of my health. We knew doing so was essential to get to this point in our lives, but it was still hard to adjust to being out of work when my whole life I'd been driven to succeed first educationally and then professionally. I threw myself into projects such as this blog, writing a novel and setting up a small business. I busied myself with our wedding preparations, and following the wedding I devoted myself to preparing to try and conceive.

I had, in fact, just decided to start looking for part-time work again when I fell pregnant. And then I fell ill. And then life stopped. I thought I was doing much better once I stopped being sick so often and got back into the swing of my new job and yet still there was a part of me that deep down felt like I wasn't quite getting it right. The bigger I got, the harder things seemed and I went from being totally incapacitated by the Hyperemesis to completely exhausted and unable to do more than the bare minimum due to a rapidly expanding bump and dodgy hips. Deep down I was feeling like a lazy lump and a failure as a wife, because I couldn't do what I wanted to support my husband who was suffering from his own physical pain and having to support me through everything. It felt totally unfair for him and I hated feeling so useless. 

Of course I didn't see this consciously, and it took a couple of emotional "meltdowns" this weekend to get to the bottom of it all. My husband is wonderful and helped me see my way back to valuing who I am and all that I can and do give. It was worth a couple of tearful conversations to feel more secure about who I am again.

And it reminded me of who I want to be, not just for me anymore but also for my husband and my son. I remembered the things we have already discussed regarding the childhood we want to provide for our little one, and how we might achieve those goals. We're completely new to this and we're bound to make many mistakes along the way, but actually we have some pretty important things already sorted out in our minds and that makes me feel better about things because I know who I am and who I need to be.

For instance, we have already discussed that in every parenting couple there tends to be a "policeman" and a "fun guy". We know without even thinking about it that I am the policeman and Tim is the fun one. I'm much stronger than Tim on the disciplining front and he is far more free and happy-go-lucky than I am. Of course, that doesn't mean that Tim won't be a part of teaching out child right from wrong, nor does it mean I won't ever have fun activities with him. It just means that when it comes to figuring out the harder decisions on discipline we know I'll be the least likely to cave in to the "puppy dog eyes" and Tim will be much better at coming up with those awesome activities we do as a family that make memories that last a lifetime. And that works for us.

We also know how we want to teach our son about life, the universe and everything. Not that we have the answers to such questions ourselves, but we know what feels right to us and that is what we want to share with our child. Everything from walks in the woods to helping with homework is pretty clear in our minds: I'll help him with English, Maths and Languages, whilst Tim will be far better suited at helping with History, Science and Random Trivia!

Of course, these are only parts of who we are and who we want to be, but remembering these things helps to ground me at times like these when I am feeling so totaly unsure of myself. I'm sure I'll have many more crises of personality as I learn and grow in my role as a parent, but for now I feel reassured that even when I'm feeling totally lost, there will be some way of finding my way back, even if it does mean having a little cry every once in a while! 

Life at the Patch – 29 weeks

Wow, I didn't mean to leave the whole of last week with only one post! Sorry about that. I kept thinking of coming on and writing something but I just couldn't seem to get my head in gear.

I've recently asked a few people to write some guest posts over the coming weeks and months, which is exciting as I have wanted The Patch to be a place of community and sharing ever since I started it. And it will really help me out on those days as I get bigger and more tired and especially around the time the baby is born. So do keep an eye out for updates on my guest bloggers, as I shall be starting to introduce you to them soon!

But for now, here's an update on us:

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Please excuse the wrinkled nature of my top… it had been "thrown" into Tim's backpack before heading out for our walk and when the wind blew up I put it over my vest top but looked rather dishevelled for it!

I hit 29 weeks yesterday, which is exciting. Every new week is exciting now as it seems to make the coutdown to meeting our baby so much smaller. Yesterday I had 77 days to go until my estimated due date: that doesn't sound very long at all does it? It certainly sounds less than 11 weeks somehow.

It does however mean I am getting a little bit concerned about how many things I still have to get done. I had been planning to do it all after finishing work in a couple of weeks' time, but the bigger I get the harder things are and I'm wondering if I really will manage to motivate myself enough to get everything sorted in time.

My checklist of things "to do" includes important things like ordering the cot mattress (because I just keep forgetting to go online and order one… bad mama!) and sorting out the nursery as it still looks like a bomb has hit it since I started working my way through the boxes of paperwork and craft materials currently stored there. I plan on getting Tim and my mum to help out on that front though as when I tried it on my own I ended up stuck in a corner, surrounded by piles of "to keep", "to chuck", "to recycle", "to give away" and sat for quite a long time wondering how on earth I would climb back out of the corner I had trapped myself in. There's no more jumping over such piles as I used to, not with this bump!

Talking of the bump, I got a shock last week when my midwife informed me that I was measuring 3 weeks ahead of what I should. Can you believe it? Just 2 months ago I was worrying about my inability to eat and gain weight and now I'm measuring on the large size. Isn't that just crazy? My weight gain is actually pretty healthy now at 18lbs, although putting it all on in two short months has been a bit of a shock to the system. But as I am a small frame, and my bump sticks out quite impressively, I both look and feel huge right now and so hearing that I am measuring big makes me feel ever so slightly better about complaining that I feel massive already when I still have 11 weeks to grow!

If I'm still measuring ahead at my next appointment in three weeks' time I'll be referred for a growth scan. I'm not going to complain about that… another chance to sneak a peek at our baby, well who wouldn't take that opportunity, even if it is because there is something not quite "routine" occuring. Personally I'm not too worried over the size as I had my suspicions he would be a big baby as we have big babies on both sides of the family! 

Being extra big does make me feel a bit better about being so useless at getting anything done right now, but it does make me think "what if he decides to come that bit earlier and I'm not prepared because I've left things to the last minute?" So this week I felt a kick up the bum and have started making lists of things I need to remember to do, like what I need to pack in my hospital bag, what toiletries I may need to buy, when I should arrange a trip to the shop to purchase those nursing bras etc. 

So do excuse me if I don't get round to posting so much these days, but right now I am busy trying to organise myself for the coming weeks. 

Life at the Patch – 28 weeks

Before I begin today's post I would like to take a moment to thank all of you who took the time to read and leave your comments on my previous post. They were all very much appreciated and I have read over them several times this weekend and will surely return to them again in future. One of the true blessings of blogging is that of reading the responses of your readers and gaining an insight into the thoughts and feelings of others. So thank you all.

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It is hard to believe, but I am now entering my third trimester. Or at least I think I am. Depending on which source you look at, the third trimester seems to begin anywhere between 26 and 29 weeks, with 28 being the most common figure quoted. So I'm sticking with that!

That means I only have 12 weeks until my due date, and we truly are on the "final countdown" now. Twelve weeks feels like such a long time still: even thinking of the 3 weeks I have left at work before the summer holidays makes me sigh with exhaustion. But, each week really does take us closer to September and the date I sometimes felt I might never reach. 

I'm finding it more and more difficult to move around these days, as the bump grows increasingly larger and the pain in my hips, back and lower abdomen increases with the added pressure. I am also finding it harder and harder to get anything done as my brain feels like fuzz most days at the moment. I have things I want to do, ideas to turn into action, and even more things that I really ought to do over the coming weeks. And yet doing them seems like so much hard work. I honestly don't know how anyone survives pregnancy whilst still working full-time or raising older siblings come this point of the journey. 

I do have my bursts of activity, and things are slowly being sorted, but more often than not I find myself thinking and daydreaming rather than actually doing. This has, of course, left me with even more ideas I wish to bring into being, making the decision of where to start even harder!

Which is why impromtptu wanderings by the side of poppy fields discovered when driving down a previously unexplored country road are all the more exciting, because I don't have time to think "this is going to take a lot more energy than I feel I have right now" but rather find myself being swept away by the beauty of the place. Moments like this need to be treasured and I am glad we had the camera to hand as it meant we could grab a few shots, before taking shelter from the sudden downpour of rain in the nearby woods.

Times like this are made even more special because of the very fact that a newborn baby is going to make the sudden urge to "go for a walk" a thing of the past for quite some time to come. And although I generally find the suggestion to "enjoy things while you still can" very annoying when enjoying most things is made ten times more difficult during pregnancy, I do know that this is one activity that is well worth the effort. 

 

Pregnancy: Your Thoughts…

Today I am going to ask something that has the potential to be rather controversial, and very painful for some. And I'd like to apologise in advance if this upsets any of you because of your own personal experiences, but it is something that I have been thinking about a lot and that I feel is worth discussing even if it is difficult. 

So before I begin, I'll just leave this quick warning that if, for whatever reason, you find the discussion of pregnancy difficult right now, then you might want to skip this post

I'd also like to say that I really hope that as many people as possible can get involved in answering this question with their own personal take on it, no matter what angle they are coming from. The very reason I am writing this post is because I want to know how people truly feel about this, and to find out the range of thoughts, feelings and opinions there are regarding this. So please do leave a comment, if you feel you can, and perhaps even pass on the link to anyone you think might be interested in having their say too. As always, any comments left will be unmoderated (unless, of course, they are abusive to others or simply spam!) so it's pretty much a case of "whatever you feel, please do write it and know it will be read". I fully expect there to be differences of opinions, and all I ask is that you respect that this is the case and try to remember that there are many people out there for who this subject is extremely painful.

So, on with the question… it is in several parts, so please bear with me!

Would you consider pregnancy to be one of the best experiences of your life, no matter what difficulties you faced either getting pregnant or getting through the pregnancy itself?

OR

Given the opportunity, would you rather skip the "pregnancy experience" if it were possible to have a baby without 9 months of your body being pushed to (and beyond) its limits, and the many months before and after pregnancy that just add to the emotional and physical challenges?

Are you still with me? Confused? Let me explain a bit more about this question and where it came from.

If you've been following my blog for a while you will know that this time last year my husband and I were unsure whether my Endo would cause us fertility trouble. So you'd be forgiven for thinking that now I am pregnant I would consider pregnancy to be one of the best experiences of my life. After all, with so many couples facing infertility, the very fact we conceived the second month of trying should mean we are overjoyed by our luck. 

So let me first say that, yes, we are overjoyed, more than I can say. There was a time a few years ago when I thought my Endo would be so bad I wouldn't even feel able to try to conceive. So for us this pregnancy is a real blessing and has actually run very smoothly in terms of the health of the baby (i.e. we never had any bleeding scares, all our scans have shown normal growth etc). But, in terms of my health, pregnancy has been one of the hardest experiences of my life.

And that is saying something, because with Endometriosis I have struggled through years of pain, heavy bleeding, surgeries, hormonal ups and downs, and many various treatments. I am not new to nausea, pain and emotional turmoil, but pregnancy has taken me to new limits. Hyperemesis Gravidarum meant that for the first 3 months I was unable to even get out of bed without retching and putting almost any food in my mouth made me gag. I won't go over this again, other than to say that I lived in my own personal hell, where the simplest of functions such as even talking to someone could make me sick and so it felt like the world was continuing on its normal route through life and I was somehow apart from that. 

If you've never been that sick then you probably can't understand that during those first few months I actually resented being pregnant. I felt immesely guilty for such, because I knew how lucky we were to be expecting a baby, but I still resented being so ill. My sickness continued at a slightly less intense level but still enough to stop me gaining weight and doing everyday things long past the halfway point of pregnancy and even now that I am anti-sickness medication I still suffer from daily nausea and extreme exhaustion. Added to that is the pain of hypermobile joints and an unstable pelvis (causing PGP), meaning I find moving around very difficult, and the sudden appearance of period-like pains and stabbing pains, we think are caused by adhesions or scarring from the Endo being stretched and you'll begin to see why pregnancy is far from the best experience of my life!

So when a friend of mine commented recently that she considered pregnancy one of the best experiences of her life, I had to stop and think about how I really felt about it all. I have been saying for most of this pregnancy that I would never, ever do it again. And that has been hard because I would have loved to have a second child in a few years time and I feel robbed of that opportunity because there really is no way I could do this again. I know my limits, and although I possibly could go through it again, I actually don't want to. It's not a matter of whether it is physically possible for me, but rather that emotionally and mentally I am not willing to go through such dark times again. 

For most people that is impossible to understand. In fact I feel incredibly guilty for grieving the fact that I can't have an "easier pregnancy" when for some people pregnancy itself is impossible. And in that respect I also understand when people say that I will forget all about this once the baby is born and once my broodiness sets in again I will be willing to go through it again. But at the same time it irritates me that people assume that I don't know my own limits and think that I am just naively reacting to a difficult situation. There is no doubt that I am reacting to a difficult situation, but there are so many reasons why for us another pregnancy is not really an option we are willing to consider. 

Which leads me to the second part of my question: "Given the opportunity, would you rather skip the "pregnancy experience" if it were possible to have a baby without 9 months of your body being pushed to (and beyond) its limits, and the many months before and after pregnancy that just add to the emotional and physical challenges?

Tim was always certain he only wanted one child and I always felt that I wanted more. It was something we were going to face in the future, deciding when the time came. But since going through this pregnancy I actually fear falling pregnant again and having to face it all again with a young child in my care. And although I have started to accept that maybe we will be a one-child family, Tim has started to think maybe we shouldn't rule out expanding our family in the future. Which has led us to look at alternative routes.

Thankfully, we are both very open to the idea of adoption or fostering, if we find ourselves in a place where this is possible. And although we know that taking that route will be very different and may mean that our relationship with an adopted or fostered child will be different to that with our own child, especially if we end up with an older child who comes with challenging past experiences, we feel that we could love and cherish and nurture such a child as much as we will the one I am currently carrying.

But I know that for some people the absolute ideal is to have their own biological children, and adoption is not really something they would choose over pregnancy. And to be fair, had I had an easier pregnancy I would have liked to have tried for another child naturally. But if we do decide to look at adoption in the future, it will be a choice we have made rather than our only option as it is for some people. And in that respect I am much happier to say "yes" to the second part of my question than some people might be.

Yet I still find myself wondering about the relationship you build with a child and how and why for many people (including ourselves) trying to conceive is such an important part of our dreams for our own family. Despite being happy to consider adoption, I do feel sad that never again will we see our baby on an ultrasound and this is the only time I will ever experience a baby wriggling around inside of me, helping to build a bond before it is even born. 

I asked this same question on a pregnancy forum I am part of and several people said that an easy pregnancy doesn't necessarily mean a stronger bond, and a harder pregnancy can still be completely worth it in the end. And with the advances in fertility treatment over the past couple of decades, more and more people are being given that chance to try and achieve that ultimate goal of experiencing pregnancy themselves. And I completely get that, because although we had considered adoption as an option previously, I still wanted to try for a baby of our own. It is a very instinctual thing. 

But, still, I know that if we do decide to expand our family in the future, I would much rather choose the adoption route next time than face another pregnancy like this one. For many people this is completely incomprehensible, and the only thing I can think of that makes is an easier thing for us to consider is that we had previously discussed adoption as an option because we wanted to give a child in need a chance of a family life so it isn't something we have come to because it is our only option. 

Of course, this is all completely invalid for many people. I have read too many infertility blogs to know how expensive and difficult adoption can be for some. And I have read too many heart-breaking posts from those who have faced cycle after cycle of fertility treatment in the hope of having their own child, only to end up childless or with only one child when they wanted a bigger family and are totally wiped out financially because of having to take the route they have.

Which is why I ask these questions in the first place. I want to know how others feel about pregnancy and what level of sacrifice they are willing to go to in order to have the family they always dreamed of. And as I said at the very beginning of this post, I know it is a difficult question and may well bring out some controversy in terms of answering it, because it is an entirely individual and personal choice. But I would still like to know how you feel about this. 

And, again, I apologise if this is a deeply painful topic for you, as I know it is for many. I don't ask to hurt anyone, simply to know more about what we so often think is such an easy and natural thing, but is actually very complicated for so many of us.

Thank you for reading, and if you do feel you can comment, please do. 


Woodland Nursery

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As time moves on and we get closer and closer to the arrival of our baby, my thoughts have become increasingly connected to preparing the house for bringing him home. I spent a lot of time over the weekend rearranging the bookcases, and (as you will find out tomorrow) have made a start on clearing the room that will be his as it currently acts as a storage space for my craft supplies.

I love adding bits and pieces to our house to make it more representative of who we are, and I wanted to create a nursery theme that did the same. I have no doubt that our son will have his own strong ideas about how he wants his room decorating when he is older, but I wanted to give him a fun and inspiring room to begin his life with us.

And so, knowing how much we love being out in nature and how much we wish to share this love with our child, I thought we could create a woodland themed nursery for him. I want the space to be fun, bright and interactive, whilst retaining an air of magic about it. So I looked online for inspiration, and found some of the cutest things which are all completely out of my budget but great for getting my own imagination going…


We’re a little limited in what we can add to the room as we currently rent it and getting permission to paint his room seems like far too much hassle when I think about how much paperwork we had to deal with when moving in and how hard it is to have to go through the letting agent to get an answer from the landlord. So, as the room is a neutral cream colour, we are hoping to add splashes of brightness through accessories and pictures.

I came up with the idea of creating a “woodland alphabet” whereby for each letter there is an A5 sized watercolour painting of something that we might find in our woodland wanderings that began with that letter. So A for acorn, B for bird, C for caterpillar etc. Some of the letters have several things we could include in the picture and so we will try and incorporate them all. My mum has been set the task of trying to pull the ideas together and I hope we can work on them as a team to provide a beautiful alphabet for the nursery.

Once the paintings are done, I plan on buying 26 plain wooden frames and painting them in a variety of greens, yellow and brown to bring the colours of the woodland onto the walls. My hope is that as he grows Oscar can move around the room and look at these pictures, and start associating them with what he sees when we are out and about in nature.

Some letters we are struggling with, like X and Z, and W and Y are quite tricky too as although we could use specifics like a Yew tree and a Woodpecker, I’m not sure if being that specific is going to confuse him when he is still trying to learn the words for “tree” and “bird”.

I’m also on the lookout for woodland inspired bedding for his cot, but am yet to find one that fits the idea I have. If all else fails, I may buy a plain white or green set and applique a design onto it. It is very exciting to think about and I am itching to get started on it, but still have to clear his room before I can do much more on it.

I’m sure his nursery will come together beautifully in time and I do so hope he will enjoy sleeping there once he is old enough to move from our room to his. How exciting to think of him growing up and learning all the different words in his alphabet. I cannot wait!


Life at the Patch – 100 days!

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It suddenly hit me the other day that come Friday this week I will only have 100 days left until my Estimated Due Date. How crazy is that? Thinking about it in terms of “less than 100 days to go” sounds so much shorter than “I still have 3 and a half months to go” somehow.

I am quite shocked that I didn’t realise this earlier, as up until a few weeks ago I was religiously counting down the hours let alone the days, weeks and months until the pregnancy would be over. But now that I am feeling much better I don’t even notice the days going by so much, and so several of them slip by without me even thinking about it.

This in itself just shows me how very ill I was, especially as I find it hard to quite comprehend exactly how ill that was now that I am feeling better. I still feel sick on and off, indigestion is my almost constant companion these days, and the pain in my hips, back and even around my bump now are quite impressive and yet this is all nothing compared to what I dealt with in those first 5-6 months.

I find myself actually enjoying the pregnancy now, something I had almost given up hope of ever doing. I can sit and watch my bump move for hours, trying to guess what the little one is up to in there, and amusing myself by the odd shape my stomach goes when part of his body is lodged right up against the side of my uterus.

Last night we had fun placing our singing bowl on my bump and playing it, to see what he would make to the sound and vibrations that were working their way through to him. He actually became immensely quiet whilst Tim was playing it, but once he stopped, the kicks and moves all started up again. I can’t wait to see if he reacts in a similar way once he is born!

We also sat together quietly last night to meditate, for the first time in far too long. Tim and I sat side by side, holding hands and sending our love to anyone who needed it. And while we were sat there in silence, my thoughts wandered onto how incredibly amazing it is that we created this little life that is growing inside of me. He is a part of me and a part of Tim, and he was created out of our love for each other and the desire to share that with another human being. And yet, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend how much I would love him before he was even born until this moment.

More and more it is becoming real to me that this is actually happening and how incredibly miraculous it seems. I think back to how un-human-like the beginning embryo was and how hard it was to imagine all these changes happening inside of me and how life could be created in the way it is. And it was hard to connect with that thought because it was so incomprehensible to me. Yet now that we are getting so close and his movements are reminding me constantly of his existence, I find that a connection is forming between us. I cannot explain this connection as it is beyond my ability to communicate, but it is quite breath-taking.

And in the process of sharing my life with this little soul inside, I feel more connected to life itself. Only yesterday it struck me that we are playing out the exact same role that so many people have played before us. We are treading a well-worn road, although for us it is a brand new experience. And because of the fact that I fell pregnant in January and am “blooming” through the summer months, waiting to give birth in the autumn, I feel very connected to nature too. It is like my baby has grown and blossomed as the seedlings in the earth have grown and bloomed, and come harvest time we we get to finally meet the eagerly anticipated “fruit of our labour” (for want of a better term).

So, all in all, this week has brought me a sense of inner peace and wonder that I have not felt in a very long time, and I find myself dreaming of all the things I can share with my child once he is here and of all the years to come with him in our lives. It is all a bit mind-blowing, and I just cannot do it justice with words. So here’s to the final 100 days (give or take a few) of getting to know my boy before he is born.

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In other news… fancy winning a little something for yourself? Tina of Tinajo at Home is having a fab giveaway and the winner will receive a beautiful shawl she has made. It is open to all, no matter where you live, and even if you don’t enter the giveaway, I do suggest popping by her blog once in a while as she is a very regular blogger and has some lovely things to say.

To enter the giveaway click on this link.

Buying for Baby

Last week I went to visit my parents in Lincoln for the first time since the beginning of the pregnancy in January. It was truly wonderful to go and see them and both my grandmothers as it has been such a long time, and even when my mum and dad had come to visit me here at home I had been too ill to really enjoy their company.

In fact, getting away from home for a few short days made coming back a real treat, which was amazing to say that a month or two ago I felt like a prisoner in my own home due to being so sick I could barely leave my bed let alone the house. 

But the visit to Lincoln was made even more exciting by the fact that it gave me a chance to go visit a local second hand shop selling things for baby, as well as picking up a few bits from our hairdresser whose youngest has outgrown most of his baby things now. 

This is what our spare room (AKA the nursery-to-be) looks like right now…

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… and all of that cost no more than £140! 

We still have to get a cot, a three-wheeler pushchair for our many walks in the woods around here, bedding and other little essentials, but it feels like we are really getting there, and at 6 months it is about time we started getting things ready for little one.

I still have a lot to sort out in the room that will become his nursery as it is currently a bit of a stroage space, but seeing all of these items in there waiting for him gives me the kick up the bum I need to start clearing out.

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Seeing all the "big" equipment piling up made me decide to get out all the clothes that we have been given by various members of the family. Some of the clothes are in the 3-6 month age range, but most are for 0-3 months and totting it all up I don't think we're going to need to buy many extra clothes for little one at all. Seeing them all lying on the bed made me squeak just a little with excitement and I cannot wait for him to finally be here, not just to have my body back but also to dress him in these lovely things and cuddle him close. 

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We've also bought some of those ever-so-helpful things called nappies. These are from a newborn starter kit I got off eBay and I plan to use them once things start settling down a little after the initial rude awakening we're in for when baby arrives. We want to use cloth nappies as much as possible, but know that trying to do so from the get-go might be a bit too much for us, so we have of course got some disposables too. But I am on the lookout for cloth nappies that will suit our needs and are at a price I find reasonable for when he grows out of the newborn stage. 

I never thought receiving gifts and buying things for someone I haven't even met yet could be so exciting, but it really and truly is. I just cannot wait for September to get here now and it is nice to feel that anticipation of wanting to meet him, rather than the desperation of getting to the end of the pregnancy I felt a few weeks ago when still so very sick. I still feel rough from time to time, but on the whole it is excited anticipation that I carry in my heart these days and that is only heightened by the fun of buying things for baby!

Life at the Patch – 24 weeks!!

Before I begin today’s post, can we all take a moment to do a happy celebratory dance around the room? Yesterday I reached 24 weeks in my pregnancy, which means that finally the pregnancy is classed as “viable” meaning that were something drastic to happen (God forbid) and labour began prematurely, the baby would have a good chance of survival with today’s medical care and the medical team would be legally obliged to give baby the best chance of survival possible. Had something happened any earlier, as sadly happens for far too many people, it would have been classed as a late miscarriage. So, passing this milestone in the pregnancy makes for one huge sigh of relief from Tim and myself, and I feel a little celebratory dance is not too much to ask for!

Let’s do it…

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Photo taken at 24 weeks exactly… bit worried about just how big bump is going to get by the end of the pregnancy!!

Right… that’s me well and truly worn out for the rest of the day now, so back to the blog!

I’m going to attempt to get back to daily (or at least every other day) blogs now, as my mind is completely brimming with ideas for posts and things I want to get done in and around our house that will equally make for fun writing (and hopefully interesting reading for you guys too). So here’s the plan for this week:

Tomorrow I’ll show you what’s been happening in our garden of late and tell you a little about the plans we have for it over the coming years. We’ve been in this house almost a year now so are slowly getting to grips with what grows well in our garden and what isn’t so successful. It’s exciting to see the changes even since last year and envisage what it will be like as it becomes more established as the years go on. I feel tomorrow’s post will be the first of many over the coming weeks and months as this is an exciting time in the garden with changes happening almost daily.

Then on Wednesday I’ll tell you about the things we have been buying for baby and the things we still have to get. At 6 months it feels right to be starting to gather bits and pieces together and I’m excited to see our spare room being filled with more and more items and working out what else we still need to get. We’ve been buying second hand and receiving gifts from family, so have actually hardly spent anything at all, which is great as you must know by now how much I like a good bargain and hate to spend money I don’t have to.

Thursday will see the beginning of a new series to the Patch. It’s called “The Magic of Trees” and will look at some of our favourite finds on our local walks and the history and folklore surrounding them. This is something that fascinates me and which I incorporated into our wedding last year, and I am looking forward to sharing my love of trees with you all. I think the series might eventually become a small segment of an even bigger series on “The Magic of Nature” which will look at the way in which we are trying to bring the natural world into our home and lives, in order to both enjoy it ourselves and build up a way of teaching our child all about the natural world around us.

Finally, on Friday, I hope to share with you some of my thoughts on organisation and planning. I’m not a naturally organised person, but with a baby on the way I am very aware of how much I need to declutter both my home and mind and try to put into place a few routines that will help me keep going even when our world is turned upside down when the baby arrives. I may not get very far, but I will certainly try!

So, I’ll see you tomorrow.